Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More WCL news from the press conference...

Apart from introducing Holly Jones to Victoria baseball fans, John McLean took a few minutes to talk about the last couple of months worth of work he and his ownership team have been doing.

First off, he once again praised the city and Mayor Fortin for the efforts being put forth from Victoria's side to make this work.It seems like the WCL's relationship with the city is already in much better shape than the Seals were able to get to.

Talk centered around the naming of Victoria's team, and the naming of the on-field boss.

The team has started a contest on their website where the first 250 people to offer suggestions receive tickets to an upcoming game. No word on what the selection process entails past collecting the 250 entries... Check out the fledgling site here:

On the Manager position, McLean was tight lipped. He made a point of stressing that the key to a good Manager at this level, is one with good communication skills, teaching skills, and superb recruiting skills. You need someone who can pick up the phone and talk to NCAA schools and convince them to send players to Victoria. He's a mentor, but also a marketer for the on-field team. McLean was quick to say he isn't  a recently retired major league player, and when asked if it was a name from baseball that we would know, his answer was a mysterious "It depends on how well you know your baseball history".

Look for an announcement within the next couple of weeks on the Manager, and by the end of September on the team name.

Jones touched on the player makeup of the team, stating that they were trying to find BC boys for the roster to give the team a more local feel. With similar timelines, the team should start to take shape in the September time frame.

On the state of Royal Athletic, McLean spoke of improvements in the works for opening day, and mentioned ideas in flight like moving home plate closer to the backstop to create a more intimate feel. He also spoke of moving the corporate BBQ area up onto the concrete deck just past the stands along the third base line (it used to live beyond the bag down third base), again to keep people closer to the game.

Jones also talked about how integral the scoreboard would be to the fan experience at the ball park. The scoreboard is still privately owned by the Parker Family, but it is on her radar to secure.

So lots going on under the covers! Lets hope the goodwill between the team and the city continues, and RAP starts to look like a ball yard again!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Victoria's WCL team names its first GM

Sometimes you can tell right away that a good decision has been made. You don’t need to wait to see what happens, hear what others have to say about it... you just get that feeling. Tuesday morning at RAP was one of those moments. John McLean stood before the Victoria sports scene and announced that the position of General Manager for Victoria’s new WCL team has be filled by... Holly Jones.


Not a big-name sports celebrity, not a famous washed-out ex-jock with a taste for the social scene, but a marketing professional. A proven successful veteran of not only the WCL where she was instrumental in establishing the Corvallis Knights - a team near the top of the league in both skill and attendance, but with a resume that includes the likes of the NBA front office, and JetBlue Airways.

Ho Jo, Victoria. Victoria, Ho Jo.
She lists volleyball and tennis as her favourite sports growing up, not baseball. And really, does it matter? On most minor league teams, and absolutely in the WCL, the on-field management is done by the bench boss, not the front office. Holly’s job here in Victoria is not managing players, but it's her sweet spot. It’s marketing. It’s community attachment. It’s promotions and getting fans in the door. It’s getting the team out into the community and making them part of the city. It's growing a team from the ground up, building solid relationships with the business and fan base of Victoria, and establishing a brand name.

And that brings me back to that feeling of it just being right.  She’s not Holly Jones - big city marketing suit from New York, landed here to sell fridges to the northerners. She’s Ho Jo. She’s an Oregon Duck. She’s a West Coast girl you would swear you grew up with. She’s down home, has family in Langford, bought a house in Oak Bay. She's already made Victoria her home and she's here to stay.

She has a bubbly personality that makes you smile, makes you want to be part of the team. Listening to her go through the media scrum, she’s practiced, she knows her stuff, but she presents herself as someone you want to see succeed because she’s one of us. She doesn’t have to fit in, it's like she’s already here.

And that my friends, is what sells here in Victoria. It’s clear that the ownership team of John McLean and Dwight Willett have done their homework again, and my guess is Victoria is going to fall in love with Holly Jones faster than you can say “Play Ball”!